The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America

 

Persons of Faith

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 13, 2005 - 7:39am


From the Guardian (UK): In the current edition of the Journal of Religion and Society, a researcher called Gregory Paul tests the hypothesis, propounded by evangelists in the Bush administration, that religion is associated with lower rates of "lethal violence, suicide, non-monogamous sexual activity and abortion". He compared data from 18 developed democracies, and discovered that the Christian fundamentalists couldn't have got it more wrong. "In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion ... None of the strongly secularised, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction." Within the US, "the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and midwest" have "markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the north-east where ... secularisation, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms". http://www.guardian.co.uk/ print/0,3858,5306144-103677,00.html

 

Game Theory

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 12, 2005 - 6:56pm


I'm going to continue my plug for rhetoricians to connect more to the social sciences. Lawrence Solum has a wonderfully clear intro to the topic of game theory on his blog: http://lsolum.blogspot.com/ (scroll down a bit). Also, Slate.com has an interesting article on Thomas Schelling (he just won the Nobel Prize in Econ) and the failure of game theory during the Vietnam War: http://slate.msn.com/id/2127862/nav/tap2/

 

No religious test. . . .

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 12, 2005 - 4:32pm


“People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers,” Bush told reporters at the White House. “They want to know Harriet Miers’ background. They want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions. And part of Harriet Miers’ life is her religion.” Article VI, clause 3 of the Constitution reads: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. ___ Damn George Bush. . .damn anyone who won't damn George Bush. . . ____ The press grows a spine: http://www.whitehouse.gov/ news/releases/2005/10/20051012-1.html ___ And POTUS gives what nonverbal communication scholars call "leakage cues": "When the questioning turned to Miers, Bush blinked 37 times in a single answer -- along with a lick of the lips, three weight shifts and some serious foot jiggling." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/ article/2005/10/11/AR2005101101577.html

 

Mr. Booth

Submitted by Anonymous on October 11, 2005 - 3:51pm


Of the various news media reports I've read of Wayne Booth's passing, that on the UChicago website perhaps best captures the teacher and friend I knew. Perhaps you would not have seen it otherwise.

 

Nearing 2000 Dead

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 10, 2005 - 7:22am


Check this link out. . .it's very powerful. . . . http://theunitedamerican.blogs.com/Movies/2000A/2000.html

 

Seduction

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 9, 2005 - 8:41pm


The association of rhetoric and seduction has a long history--Peitho, the daughter of Aphrodite, combines the two. This weekend I've been reading Laclos' Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Laclos' epistolary novel depicts two 18th c. French aristocrats (one male, one female) as they plot their seductions. (Laclos also wrote on military tactics, interestingly enough). Letter 81 is a fascinating discussion of how a young woman learns the arts of social communication--especially observing nonverbal cues. (The novel also contains one of my favorite quotations: "La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid." Revenge is a dish best served cold. . .). Any other thoughts on rhetoric as seduction? I'm thinking partly of Brockriede's essay from the 1970's, "Arguers as Lovers," but there seems like a lot more to say on the topic (especially the gendered character of rhetoric). More on Peitho here: http://www.theoi.com/Daimon/Peitho.html

 

Huntington in Aggieland

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 9, 2005 - 11:34am


Things should be interesting here on Monday night; too bad I'm teaching my graduate class. I confess I'm disturbed by the following, partially on pragmatic grounds (who will be persuaded by such a protest?) and partially because I have my doubts that the majority of the protestors have read Huntington's work. The only arguments against him thus far are personal anecdotes, not serious grappling with his statistical generalizations--generalizations with which I disagree, but I detest the idea that some ideas are simply beyond discussion. Have at me for saying that. . . _______ On Monday, October 10 from 6:00-7:30PM at the Bush School Fountain, a coalition of campus and community groups is gathering for a peaceful protest against the ideas of Samuel Huntington. That evening, Huntington will be giving a Texas A&M University Distinguished Faculty Lecture inside the Bush School, and our protest outside is a response. Our coalition: * Opposes Huntington's ideas and his disparaging views of immigrants. We celebrate Mexican, Mexican American, and Latino cultures, support a multicultural vision of American society, and embrace America's diverse immigrant heritages. * Supports the rights of people with whom we disagree to express their views, and we do not oppose Huntington's right to speak. We also assert our right to express our dissent. * Believes that Texas A&M University should raise the starting pay for all full time workers to a living wage. Samuel Huntington, a man whose work disparages Mexican and Mexican American culture, is being paid $10,000 for one evening's work. At the same time, over 800 of TAMU's full time workers, many of whom are Mexican American, are paid poverty wages. We urge Texas A&M to fully fund the Living Wage Initiative. (For more on the Living Wage Initiative, see http://jpi.tamu.edu/LivingWage/) The protest coalition includes Faculty and Staff Committed to an Inclusive Campus, Make Aggieland Safe for Everyone, the League of United Latin American Citizens, The Mexican American and Latino Faculty Association, and Comunidad Luchando Unida Por La Educacion (Community United in the Struggle for Education). Come join us! Harris M. Berger FSCIC Co-Chair Faculty and Sttaff Committed to an Inclusive Campus

 

More Miers Musings

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 9, 2005 - 9:52am


I had one of those emails on Friday that one can only get in Aggieland. I had briefly described the controversy over her appointment in my history of rhetoric class on Wednesday, and one of my students responded: You're probably getting your information from liberal sources. Here's something that will clarify things. . . . The link was to Dr. James Dobson's website, which assured the reader of Miers' conservative credentials. The right is fracturing, and partially on elite/popular lines, with the elites (Krauthammer, Kristol) going against Miers, and those with a more popular audience (Dobson) tending to support her. Is Miers a sort of scapegoat for larger disillusionment with Bush? The more I read about Miers the more I think it likely that she will vote to overturn Roe; it's maybe 50/50 with Roberts (but his wife's leadership position in Feminists for Life seems to be pretty good evidence of his personal position). The upcoming New Hampshire parental notification (Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England) case should be revealing of where the wind is blowing. Check out the case summary at: http://docket.medill.northwestern.edu/archives/002437.php What makes the case interesting is that it centers on the rhetorical issue of presumption/burden of proof. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, O'Connor created the "undue burden standard." It means that if the abortion regulation is unconstitutional as applied to a significant number of women, then the law itself is unconstitutional. Under this standard, the partial birth abortion bill passed by Congress is unconstitutional if it applies to women who need the abortion for health reasons. All that a Roe opponent needs to do is change the standard: if the statute is constitutional on its face, then the exceptions to the rule must litigate against the statute individually. As Jack Balkin points out, Roberts would not have been lying when he said he "respects precedent." Roe can stand, but the abortion right will be de facto meaningless, because new regulations against abortion will stand during the long process of litigation. See: http://balkin.blogspot.com/2005/07/reverse-litmus-test.html Still, the shifting of the burden of proof will require that one other justice signs on; I don't see any of the other five justices (Kennedy, Ginsburg, Souter, Breyer, Stevens) joining Miers, Scalia, Roberts, and Thomas.

 

Academic Bill of Rights

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 5, 2005 - 9:39pm


Slowly but surely, David Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights is making headway in some states (mostly recently Pennsylvania), and has made it out of committee in the House of Representatives. Please lobby your faculty senates and professional organizations to step in and head this off at the pass. The real aim is not only to silence anyone who criticizes our Supreme Leader, but also to mandate the teaching of creation "science" in the university classroom. For Horowitz' proposal, see: http://www.frontpagemag.com/Content/read.asp?ID=50

 

Got PMS? Read your Bible

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 5, 2005 - 9:24pm


"Dr. W. David Hager, a Bush appointee to the Food and Drug Administration, recommends a unique remedy for premenstrual syndrome: Bible reading. Due in part to Hager's political sway, the contraceptive Plan B (popularly known as the morning-after pill) is still not available over-the-counter in the U.S., although it is widely accessible in many other countries." More at www.star.com